GOODYEAR READY TO BREAK THROUGH AT INDIANAPOLIS By Dick Mittman indyracingleague.com INDIANAPOLIS, April 7, 1999 -- Ever wonder how close Scott Goodyear is to being a four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 instead of a no-time...
GOODYEAR READY TO BREAK THROUGH AT INDIANAPOLIS
By Dick Mittman indyracingleague.com
INDIANAPOLIS, April 7, 1999 -- Ever wonder how close Scott Goodyear is to being a four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 instead of a no-time winner? Try less than 10 seconds. But Goodyear hopes to end his frustration in the world's most famous race May 30 with a drive to the checkered flag that won't have "close, but no banana" attached to it. Goodyear shed the monkey from his back in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League on March 28 by winning the MCI WorldCom 200 at Phoenix International Raceway in the Pennzoil Panther G Force/Aurora/Goodyear, his first victory on the circuit. In 20 previous races, he had finished second four times, third twice and fourth three times. "Today was my lucky day," he said in the Phoenix postrace press conference. At Indy, his lucky day still awaits him. He will prepare for his ninth Indianapolis 500 start during the Open Test April 10-11 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In 1992, Goodyear chased Al Unser Jr. down in a brilliant final two-lap charge, but crossed the finish line a half-car length and record 43-thousandths of a second behind. He trailed Arie Luyendyk to the checkered flag in second by 57-hundredths of a second in 1997 and, though finishing seventh in 1993, crossed the line just 7.911 seconds behind winner Emerson Fittipaldi. That adds up to 8.530 seconds. Then, of course, there was 1995. Goodyear led that race when the green came out to start the final 10 laps. He got a good jump on Jacques Villeneuve, but when he exited Turn 4 the Pace Car had not reached the pits, and he swept by it at full steam. He was black-flagged but continued on and charged across the line first. But on Lap 195, when he didn't respond to the black flag by pitting, USAC officials quit scoring his car. He was credited with 14th place. "I think I look at it, 'Yeah, I could have won a few,'' he said. "But sometimes I think I've been pretty lucky. I've been a contender. I understand how to get the car around the track, and I understand how to get the car to finish." Goodyear, a native of Toronto, said he was elated to have come that close to catching Unser. He feels today his lack of experience (it was only his second Indy) compared to that of Unser. played a role in the outcome of that race. In his other second-place finish, he feels he probably didn't have the car to catch Luyendyk and was satisfied to be where he was. "Everyone was frustrated in '95," he said. Goodyear went through the same difficulties during the 1998 season, driving his first year with the newly formed Panther Racing team and joint owners John Barnes, Gary Pedigo and pro football quarterback Jim Harbaugh. He cites races at Orlando, New Hampshire and Atlanta that he could have won, taking blame for loss of the first one. After last season, Barnes brought the team to Walt Disney World Speedway for December testing. Added was engineer Andy Brown, who was with Al Unser Jr. when he beat Goodyear by a blink of the eye in '92. Goodyear and Brown hit it off instantly. "It is our second year together, and everybody is more dedicated," Goodyear said. "Andy and I seem to get along well together. With his level of expertise and experience, I think we're going to have a strong season." With a second place and a victory this season, Goodyear has jumped out to a 93-75 lead over second-place Jeff Ward in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League point standings after two races. "We finished second at Orlando and we weren't pleased," Goodyear said. "We went home thinking about what we had to do to improve." At Phoenix, Goodyear qualified third quickest and led 134 laps, including the final 52. He was running one second behind Indianapolis 500 winners Eddie Cheever Jr. and Buddy Lazier when they crashed on Lap 149 and was able to get safely through the melee to assume the lead for good. The key to his victory was his remarkable restarts as the leader. He timed them perfectly, never passing the Pace Car and leaving the second place car several seconds behind. "I think Scott is a very good driver," said Barnes, who also is team manager. "Scott is more determined." The victory elevated the confidence level of everyone on the team, Goodyear said. He said the attitude now is, "Let's get more." After participating in the Open Test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Goodyear then will try to add a second straight victory in the VisionAire 500 on May 1 at Charlotte, N.C., before making what he hopes will be a winning drive in the 500. Goodyear turned to the Pep Boys Indy Racing League in 1997 after staying with CART for a year. He wanted to be where Indy was part of the series. "I'm sold on the IRL," he said. "Coming from CART, I could see how the equipment was so important. And after my 1995 season at Indy, I really knew what having all of the pieces to the puzzle meant if you could get them. And for Goodyear the pieces seem to be in place for the last Indy 500 of the 20th century. "We know we are a great team with a lot of experience," he said. "We need to win races. That's what we need to do at Indy."
*** Testing, testing: The Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program takes place April 8-9 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with the Open Test for veteran drivers April 10-11. Practice will take place from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. each of the four days. Fans are welcome to attend the test for free. Seating is available in the South Terrace near the Hall of Fame Museum.
*** The lineup: The drivers participating in the Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program April 8-9 and Open Test April 10-11 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway:
ROOKIE ORIENTATION PROGRAM (April 8-9): Driver Team Wim Eyckmans Team Cheever John Hollansworth Jr. TeamXtreme Jaques Lazier DR Racing Robby McGehee Conti Racing Jeret Schroeder CBR Cobb Racing Dave Steele Panther Racing
OPEN TEST (April 10-11): Driver Team Donnie Beechler Cahill Racing Billy Boat A.J. Foyt Enterprises Raul Boesel McCormack Motorsports Kenny Brack A.J. Foyt Enterprises Robbie Buhl SRS Buzz Calkins Bradley Motorsports Tyce Carlson Blueprint-Immke Racing Eddie Cheever Jr. Team Cheever Mark Dismore Kelley Racing Scott Goodyear Panther Racing Stephan Gregoire Dick Simon Racing Roberto Guerrero CBR Cobb Racing Scott Harrington Harrington Motorsports Steve Knapp ISM Racing Buddy Lazier Hemelgarn Racing Arie Luyendyk Treadway Racing Andy Michner Brant Racing Roberto Moreno Truscelli Team Racing John Paul Jr. Byrd-Cunningham Racing Greg Ray Team Menard Eliseo Salazar Nienhouse Motorsports Sam Schmidt Treadway Racing Scott Sharp Kelley Racing Johnny Unser Treadway Racing Robby Unser Team Pelfrey Jeff Ward Pagan Racing
*** Rite of passage: Drivers participating in the Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program must complete four phases of on-track testing to pass their rookie test. Drivers must complete 10 laps at each of these speed phases while showing control of the car under the watchful eye of veteran observers: .Phase 1: 195-200 mph .Phase 2: 200-205 mph .Phase 3: 205-210 mph .Phase 4: More than 210 mph